PORTRAIT OF A PRETTY YOUNG GIRL IN COATESVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA (THE GREAT MEMORIAL CARD DEBATE)

This cabinet card portrait features a relatively close-up view of a pretty girl dressed in dark clothing. She appears to be in her late adolescence. Her photograph is presented as if it is on a scroll. I have come across much debate as to whether the “scroll images” are memorial photographs. After reading both sides arguments, I tend to believe that they are not necessarily memorial photographs. The teen seen in this photograph is wearing a hat that reminds me of an old adage, “A bird on the hat is worth two in the bush”. Perhaps I may be confused about that proverb but the young lady seen in this cabinet card is wearing a “bird hat”. This style hat is not one of my favorite examples of millinery design. At the turn of the 19th century it became the style in the US and Europe to wear feathers and even whole taxidermied birds on their hats. This resulted in the killing of millions of birds all around the world. An article in “Sociological Images” (2014) reports on a single order of feathers by a London dealer in 1892 requiring the “harvesting” of 6,000 Birds of Paradise, 40,000 Hummingbirds, and 360,00 of various East Indian birds. Ornithologists started to speak out in resistance to this practice. One asserted that 67 types of birds were at risk for extinction. Ornithologists and their supporters began to target women who were supporting the practice of slaughtering birds. Women were receiving the blame for the barbarism being committed against birds. The writer, Virginia Woolf (1882-1942) reminded readers that it was men who were actually murdering the birds and making a profit from them. Interestingly, middle class women were major advocates in the bird preservation movement. In the US the movement sparked the development of the first Audubon societies. The Massachusetts Audubon Society organized a feather boycott, and soon the US government passed  conservation legislation that protected the birds. The photographer of this cabinet card is J. B. Gibson who operated a studio in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. John Banks Gibson is reported to have been a photographer from the 1870’s until the 1890’s. He initially worked producing ferreotypes (tintypes). In 1893 he sold his business to photographer Robert Young. Gibson was born in East Nottingham, Pennsylvania and died in 1913 in Coatesville at 75 years of age. He learned photography as a young man from Alexander McCormick of Oxford, Pennsylvania.

Published in: on August 15, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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A FAMILY OF FIVE IN MOURNING GATHER AROUND A POST MORTEM PHOTO OF BABY CARRIE

This cabinet card portrait is both interesting and sad. The photograph shows a family of five in mourning. They are dressed in dark clothing and on the table that they are sitting or standing by, is a cabinet card post-mortem photograph of a baby. On the reverse of this cabinet card is the inscription “Carrie Picture”. Clearly, someone has identified the baby as being named “Carrie”. This photograph was taken at the Bannister studio in St. Johns, Michigan. The Michigan Directory of Photographers reports that he operated his St Johns studio in 1895. The directory provides no first name for Mr. Bannister. It is my hypothesis that the photographer of the cabinet card portrait was Frank T. Bannister. He is listed as a photographer in the 1885 business directory for Saginaw, Michigan. He also appears in the 1910 US census as a photographer residing in New Richmond, Wisconsin.

Published in: on July 20, 2017 at 7:39 pm  Comments (2)  
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UNUSUAL POST MORTEM PHOTOGRAPH FROM SCHWABACH, GERMANY

This post mortem cabinet card image features an older bearded man partially covered with flowers. The card on the bottom right hand corner of the image likely has the words of a prayer or a religious reading. The image has amazing clarity. The deceased gentleman is lying at an unusual angle. The photographer of this cabinet card image is the Kandel studio which was located in Schwabach, Germany. The town is near Nuremberg and in the center of the Franconia region in North Bavaria. Hopefully, visitors to the Cabinet Card Gallery will not find this image offensive. Photographs of deceased family members were commonplace during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in America and Europe. The images helped surviving loved ones through the grieving process. In addition, sometimes the post mortem photographs were the only images possessed by the deceased’s family.

Published in: on March 13, 2017 at 7:18 pm  Comments (3)  
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ATTRACTIVE YOUNG AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN IN APPLETON, WISCONSIN

ross-lady

This is a wonderful cabinet card portrait of a pretty young woman. The photograph features a great deal of uncertainty. The individual who formerly owned this image claimed that the subject is African American. In my opinion, the claim is debatable. One of the issues relating to some cabinet card images of African Americans is this very question. Some collectors and dealers sincerely believe they possess a portrait of an African American while others dishonestly make the claim in order to increase the value of the photograph. This particular image presents another interesting and debatable subject. The previous owner also claimed that this photograph is a memorial cabinet card. In other words, the photograph was made in honor of this young woman upon her death (not a post-mortem photo). The placement of the woman’s image inside a scroll, or whatever the shape represents, is the alleged tip off that it is a memorial photograph. I have seen experts provide conflicting opinions about such claims. Lets talk about what we do know. This young and attractive woman is making an interesting fashion statement. Her dress has little squares of fabric attached to it in what appears to be a haphazard manner. She is wearing a horseshoe collar pin and a thin necklace. If this photo is a memorial cabinet card, then the horseshoe certainly didn’t provide her with good luck. She is wearing her hair up. The photographer of this cabinet card is William T. Ross (1861-1945) who operated a studio in Appleton, Wisconsin. Ross appears in “Wilson Photographic Magazine” (1898) in an article that reports that he was elected Treasurer of the Convention of Wisconsin Photographers. Ross has a presence in a number of Appleton city directories from 1889 through 1934. He was born in Syracuse, New York and was married to Ella A. Ross. The edges of this cabinet card are scalloped and gold gilded. The reverse of the cabinet card has a ghost image (see below). The image was likely formed by the rear of the cabinet card being pressed against the front of another image while occupying a frame or album.

ross-lady-2

Published in: on November 7, 2016 at 3:01 pm  Comments (6)  
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MEMORIAL CARD FOR A YOUNG MAN IN MARION, IOWA

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This cabinet card is a memorial card produced by the Elliott studio in Marion, Iowa. The young man in this photograph had passed away and this image served as a remembrance for his family and friends. To view other photographs by this photographer, click on the category “Photographer: Elliott”.

Published in: on August 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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POSSIBLE MEMORIAL PORTRAIT OF A MAN IN KEWAUNEE, WISCONSIN

tree design

This cabinet card is unusual in that the portrait of the subject (man) is placed over a drawing of a stark winter scene. It is likely that the gentleman’s portrait is framed in this manner because the cabinet card is meant to be a memorial or mourning photograph. I have never seen a cabinet card with this type of border design. The photographer of this image is the Mutzbauer studio in Kewaunee, Wisconsin. The Mutzbauer studio was located in Kewaunee between 1887 and 1896. It later operated in Milwaukee, and it appears to have closed in 1928. The studio was started by Joseph Mutzbauer (1856-1915). He had two children that went into his business, Joseph L. Mutzbauer (1884-1965) and Louise Mutzbauer Macosta (1880-?).

Published in: on March 26, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A BEREAVED WOMAN IN THE WOODS IN McPHERSON, KANSAS (FEMALE PHOTOGRAPHER)

MRS VREELAND_0004This cabinet card features a well dressed woman dressed in black and holding a handkerchief. The woman appears to be dressed in mourning clothes. On the reverse of the cabinet card is the following pre printed quotation “Secure the shadow ere the substance fades”. This quotation was commonly used in the photographic community in advertising to encourage people to photograph their deceased relatives to keep their memory alive. The next part of the “secure the shadow” quotation is “Let nature imitate what nature made”. It was not uncommon to photograph corpses in life-like poses or in caskets, deathbeds, or other household furniture during the cabinet card era. See cabinet card gallery category “Memorial Card”. This photograph seems to be more of a mourning card than a memorial card, though one can’t be certain. The photographer of this image is Mrs. Vreeland who operated the “leading gallery” in McPherson, Kansas. To view other photographs by female photographers click on the category “Female Photographers”. To view other photographs by Mrs. Vreeland, click on the category “Photographer: Vreeland”.

YOUNG WOMAN WITH HER HEAD IN THE CLOUDS IN BELLEVUE, IOWA

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A young woman has her head in the clouds in this Bellevue, Iowa portrait. The photographic effect was created by photographer M. J. Streuser in his Front Street studio. On a sad note, it is likely that this portrait is actually a memorial cabinet card. My hypothesis is that the photographer used the effect to create a heavenly image of the woman.  To view other memorial cards, click on the category “Memorial Card”.

Published in: on April 28, 2013 at 7:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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WOMAN IN A FRAME IN HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

LADY IN A FRAME_0002A young woman is featured in this cabinet card that appears to be a memorial photograph. The image has a musical theme. Note the pictured string instrument and the scrolled sheet music. Perhaps the young woman pictured  in the frame was a musician. The photographic studio responsible for this interesting image is the C. S. Roshon studio which was located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The cabinet card gallery has another Roshon photograph in its collection). This second photograph is one of the more controversial images in the gallery’s collection because it very well may be a counterfeit cabinet card. The image features a Native American man with a turkey vulture on his head.  Click on the category “Photographer: Roshon” to view this photograph.

Published in: on February 25, 2013 at 12:01 am  Comments (1)  
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MEMORIAL PHOTOGRAPH OF BRITISH SAILOR IN MALTA

E. Grech Cumbo was a photographer on the island of Malta. His studio was located at 14 Strada Street in the city of Valleta. Cumbo produced this cabinet card of a British sailor (nationality needs to be confirmed). Stenciled on the photograph, above the cushion on which the sailor rests his arms, are the words, “In Loving Memory”. This photograph likely served as a memorial card for this young man’s crew mate friends. To view other examples of memorial photographs, click on the category “Memorial Card”.

Published in: on September 1, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (1)  
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